recently caught up with MURRAY KOPELOW, MD, chief executive of the Accreditation Council for CME, to learn what was behind the decision to hire its first-ever director of communications — Tamar Hosansky, who left her post as editor of this magazine to join the team in June. Kopelow explained that creating the position is part of a long-term plan to better connect and communicate with all the organization's stakeholders, from its member organizations to accredited CME providers to physician learners and, ultimately, the public.
MM: What are your goals for ACCME's new director of communications?
Kopelow: Our goal is to establish a flow of information within ACCME and between ACCME and our external stakeholders that makes the case for CME as a strategic asset for everyone who's interested in healthcare quality improvement. Also, we want to make it clear that ACCME is on the trajectory for change. For example, we did a series of calls-for-comment regarding commercial support, starting with a large-scale proposal in 2008 that included a discussion about eliminating commercial support, down to the more precise tactics we proposed earlier this year, including ideas for an independent third-party funding organization or for a label for commercial-support-free CME.
We believe that timely, understandable, targeted information from ACCME is essential, and we needed expert help. So we reached out to Tamar.
MM: Is adding this position part of a larger move toward increased transparency?
Kopelow: Transparency in itself is an ACCME objective, to remove opaqueness and shine a light on things. We announced this goal in July 2008 — and reiterated it in communications to providers in January this year. For example, through our new rule-making policy, people can watch our process unfold and participate in it.
The other way we are becoming more transparent is to publish more information about our accredited providers. Starting in August, we are posting more information about each of our accredited providers so people can see what a provider's accreditation status is, and they can understand the scope of an accredited provider's program of CME. We are also going to identify which providers receive commercial support, which providers receive funds for advertising and exhibits and which do not. We have also posted in the public documents area of our Web site the success of our providers in meeting the new 2006 Accreditation Criteria.
MM: Why not go really transparent and provide the amounts of commercial support each provider receives?
Kopelow: ACCME publishes information on amounts of commercial support received, broken down by provider types — but not by individual provider. Within our accreditation process we have no de minimus requirements — meaning that no amount is too small to [preclude] disclosure of the presence of commercial support, or disclosure of any other relevant financial relationships, to learners in CME activities. The providers, and ACCME, could consider and discuss the disclosure of more information — if that would add value to our system.
MM: Since one of ACCME's ultimate stakeholders is the public, are you also looking to increase ACCME's voice in public debates?
Kopelow: We want to be sure that those who are discussing accredited CME, and the future of CME, have accurate and complete information about our system. ACCME's new multimedia site can be a tool for educating the public about the value of accredited CME, as well as being an educational resource for providers. We expect that CME will continue to be under scrutiny. We've promised to be able to identify whether commercial bias is or is not present in CME, and I believe we'll be held to that promise.
MM: Is the provider database you mentioned earlier a part of holding to that promise?
Kopelow: Yes, the ACCME Activity & Program Reporting System is a database for CME accreditors — ACCME and the state medical societies — and it is part of our surveillance plans. [In addition to aggregating] information describing CME activities accreditors need, ACCME is going to repurpose the information for our surveillance and monitoring efforts. Our promise was that we would start to look directly at activities to see if the Standards for Commercial Support are met, and to have people at the activity taking measure of provider compliance. We will roll out our surveillance and monitoring over the 18 months following the database implementation.
For more of this interview, go to meetingsnet.com and search using the keywords “ACCME transparency.”
The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education has launched a multimedia education and training site on its Web site, acme.org, to showcase the effect that accredited continuing medical education initiatives are having on improving professional practice and patient care.
The Alliance for CME has a series of upcoming webinars, including Assessing Cultural Competency in Stroke Prevention in African-American Patients: Measuring Professional Practice Gaps, scheduled for Nov. 17. For more, go to cmeprofdev.acme-assn.org/upcoming.php.
Members of the National Medical Association reached out to the local community in Las Vegas during their convention this summer by hosting a health fair and “Walk a Mile With a Child” event at the Academy of the Healing Arts.
Paul Markowski was named executive vice president and chief executive officer at the American College of Chest Physicians, replacing Alvin Lever who served in that role for 18 years. Markowski becomes just the fourth EVP/CEO in ACCP's 75-year history.
No Introduction Needed: ACCME's New Communications Director
Tamar Hosansky was was serving as editor of this magazine when she got the call from the Accreditation Council for CME asking her to be its new communications director. She calls her new job “a fantastic opportunity to participate in something I am passionate about: elevating CME's visibility and credibility on a national level.”
Her job, she says, is to help ACCME “look at the overall developments and see how they can be communicated in the most clear and understandable way, and also to clearly demonstrate ACCME's trajectory of development, that everything it does is a series of steps in the process of moving accredited CME toward becoming a strategic asset in patient-care initiatives.”
The best part of the job so far, she says, is “working in such a collegial, collaborative environment and having the opportunity to participate in conversations about the direction the ACCME is taking. I've been very impressed with the level of thought that goes into everything.”